By Jeff Wilson
Frogs Today senior writer
Reality can be an SOB, and the reality a week ago was that TCU needed a miracle.
Maybe miracle is a strong word, but the Horned Frogs were sitting on six Big 12 wins with four games left and needed to reach eight to grab the attention of the NCAA Tournament committee.
Their four games were against then-No. 9 Texas Tech, a home-and-home against No. 6 Kansas and the finale at West Virginia. TCU has never won at Kansas nor at West Virginia, and the Frogs had never beaten ranked teams, let alone top-10 teams, in consecutive games.
Maybe miracle isn’t too strong.
Eight wins in the terrific Big 12, three of them against top 15 teams, should be enough for the Frogs (19-9, 8-8) to return to the Big Dance for the first time since 2018.
“This gives us momentum, not only for Kansas but for West Virginia, the Big 12 tournament and March Madness,” forward Emanuel Miller said. “We’re one of the best teams in this country. I stand firmly on that. My teammates stand firmly on that. We’re just ready to compete. We’re ready.”
TCU entered Tuesday projected to be a No. 9 seed by ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, NCAA.com’s Andy Katz and Jerry Palm of CBS Sports. The Frogs were one of the last four in the field as recently as Saturday morning.
They had blown a double-digit second-half lead at Texas last Wednesday, losing 75-66, for their fourth loss in five games. Included in that stretch was TCU scoring scored 51 points (total!) in a home loss to Iowa State, which doesn’t look quite as bad thanks to the Cyclones’ late-season surge.
But it looked pretty awful at the time, and the Frogs looked worn down after Texas game.
TCU didn’t look great in the first half against Texas Tech, and was lucky to be down only 41-33 at halftime. The Frogs were down 11 with 17:28 to go.
They played arguably their best half of the season, limiting the Red Raiders to 25 points and forcing 13 turnovers. Mike Miles Jr. had his best game of the season with a game-high 26 points and five steals.
He was good again against Kansas, which was fortunate to be up 36-35 at halftime. But TCU regained control in the second half, leading by as many as 12, and Damion Baugh iced the game from the free-throw line in the final minute.
Jamie Dixon didn’t particularly care for the first 10 minutes of the game, but the Frogs’ coach liked other 75%. He also liked the shiniest number TCU has posted in conference play — only seven turnovers.
That, a decisive edge in rebounding (47-35) and solid defense (37.1% shooting, seven blocks) are the key components to a Frogs victory.